Wednesday, February 1, 2012

salesmen in the foyer

The monastery foyer is where visitors enter to be greeted through a grille.  In the analogy of the cloistered heart, I think of the foyer as my mind.  It's where thoughts come in requesting admittance.  Ideally, good and virtuous thoughts are allowed to linger.  Mean, condemning, fearful, evil thoughts are shown the door.  At least, that is the ideal.

We all know it's not that simple.

I think of unholy, unkind, worrying thoughts as "salesmen in the foyer."  They generally enter unbidden, although I often do invite them (even if unintentionally) by what I read, listen to, view.  They trail in on the coattails of family members; they hitchhike in magazine pages; their voices thread through memories I entertain.  They stand in the foyer, opening their catalogs of old regrets and new fears and future dreads.  

Recently there was a convention in my foyer.  I didn't recognize "the salesmen" at first, and by the time I realized who they were and what was happening, I was already quite mired down.  I had forgotten there was a grille between us, and I'd focused my eyes right between the grille-bars so I could plainly see the wares being offered. And then I remembered my grille.  I will admit to finding it hard, at first, to step back and take a look THROUGH it... after all, the catalogs of worries laid out before me were remarkably compelling.  Part of me wanted to continue my unobstructed view.  But then I picked up my Bible and opened it to a "bar of my grillwork....." 

"Praised be the Lord, I exclaim, and I am safe from my enemies."  (Psalm 18:4) 

I cannot describe the sense of relief that flooded me as I not only read these words, but began to put them into practice.  I wasn't feeling physically up to par, I'd been bombarded by worries and stresses..... but still, I could praise the Lord!  Nothing should be able to prevent that!  Every salesman on earth might be standing in my "foyer," but I could make the decision to praise God.  Each time a worry trickled in, I could actually let it serve as a reminder to give thanks and praise to God. 

"Praised be the Lord, I exclaim"... and so I do. 

...and I am safe from my enemies."  And so I am.